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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 1, 2019
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Come To Think Of It
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

One month in


I’m usually quite optimistic every time a new year rolls in but 2019 feels different. It’s worrying how those of us who would like to believe we are awake feel like we are still stuck in a bad dream with no end in sight.

People are dead in a church and a mosque in Mindanao despite years of martial law that was supposed to keep Filipinos there safe. And instead of being ashamed of failing to keep the public safe despite its ultimate weapon of public safety, our government simply carries on and even has the gall to use that failure to justify even more of the same thing.

Albert Einstein is said to have defined insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting the different results so it would seem that martial law has driven our government officials insane or maybe they just taking advantage of the deadly bombing to push for martial law extensionand maybe even more extreme powers as the Supreme Court finds ways to justify and grant the dream of practically perpetual martial law in a country where there is neither rebellion nor invasion.

The New Year has come but recent events to open the year are indicating that martial law is here to stay.

This new year was supposed to come with a reason to be optimistic in elections that could allow the people of a democratic country to choose their leaders which could be a vote of confidence for the guys currently in charge or a chance to make things right for those who were fooled and disappointed. But with the way things are being run, especially with martial law firmly in place and the potential to be supersized after these conveniently-timed bombings, how are Filipinos supposed to campaign and vote freely in a country where death squads roam with impunity while police and military officials serve and protect only those in power?

The last time elections and martial law came as a package, Filipinos were ruled by a dictator. What does that say about the current administration’s determination to keep martial law from being lifted in a huge chunk of the country that they can’t even keep safe? With martial law in place and billions in intelligence funds, the Filipino people should be as safe as can be but the only thing that’s definitely safe these daysare political careers and dynasties of those who know how to play the game, as well as the booming businesses of cronies who made the right choice.

It’s already 2019 and if certain promises were only made, the world should already be a better place. 3-6 months will soon become 36 months but the only change we’ve seen is how epals have become even more sickeningly epal, how liars are now allowed to spout untruths without being held accountable, bad jokes are becoming worse, and that wang wangs have come back in a big way.

There’s also the New Year greeting us with the price of fuel shooting up again and we haven’t even been hit by the additional excise tax on fuel brought to us by the government’s beautiful TRAIN that was supposed to make life better if only it had been given more thought.

It’s probably bad luck to start the year on such a sour note but unless you’re a crony or a fan of excuses, things just aren’t looking too good. Every time I think things can be all right, I am reminded of what has become of this country when I see another blatant campaign poster of less-than-qualified people popping up all over the place, reminding us how they can flout the rules because their closeness with the powers that be makes them untouchable.

Aside from deadly combination of martial law and elections, we live in a country where administration candidates that are supposed to have “resigned” from government are still blatantly using government resources with extreme impunity because nobody in government is dumb enough to call them out. In a government where high officials can jokingly threaten to kick state auditors down the stairs for doing their job, taxpayer’s money and government resources can be spent on the privileged few who know they can get away with anything and everything. This go-go-go with impunity mentality is sickening to watch but there is nothing we can do if the dear leader who threatens to physical harm upon those who make things difficult for him and his minions who flaunt his supreme blessing.

It’s hard to see how we can have fair and honest elections when the playing field has already been skewed to favor those who know how to use the power of the government and the taxpayer’s money to their advantage. Everyone knows that the incumbent always has an advantage over their opposition but they are breaking new ground with way that advantage is being exploited this time around. The lesson we are learning is that delicadeza and decency are for losers. Those who are on the receiving end of this bending of the rules to the point of breaking can only hope against hope that karma is real.

The problem with counting on karma is that most of the time, it takes too damn long. That means those who don’t like the way things are will have to do more than just count on karma because it we can’t count on it to protect us from martial law or from more bad leaders.

It will be interesting to see how 2019 turns out.*  

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